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Featured Thursday, Apr 30 2020

Leading cancer clinician urges people not to put off seeking help for cancer symptoms

A leading cancer clinician is backing national calls for people not to put off seeking help for cancer symptoms amidst fears of Covid-19.

Dr Anant Sachdev is a GP in East Berkshire who plays a leading role in regional cancer care.

He is advising people not to hesitate to get checked, as new research has revealed that nearly half of the public who responded to a national survey said they were concerned about seeking help during the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey has revealed that one in 10 people would not contact their GP even if they had a lump or a new mole which did not go away after a week.

Another third of people would worry about seeking help, according to polling carried out by Portland.

Getting coronavirus or giving it to their family were among the top reasons that people would not come forward when they have cancer symptoms along with fears that they could be a burden to the health service.

Dr Sachdev said: “It is totally understandable that people may fear entering a GP or hospital setting due to the current pandemic.

“However, it is really important that if anyone has a symptom that they are worried about, such as changes in bowel or bladder habits or weight and appetite, indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, nagging cough, breathlessness or hoarseness, or a lump, they must contact their GP practice as soon as possible.

“If cancers are detected earlier then lives can be saved. Waiting to get help could have serious consequences.

He added: “I’d like to reassure people that NHS staff are working hard to make sure people can get cancer checks and treatment safely so there is no need to delay.”

Online consultations mean people do not necessarily need to go to GP surgeries for check-ups, while COVID-free cancer hubs have been set up to provide surgery along with independent sector hospitals who have signed an unprecedented deal with the NHS.

Professor Peter Johnson, the NHS national clinical director for cancer and a consultant at University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS), said: “NHS staff have made huge efforts to deal with coronavirus but they are also working hard to ensure that patients can safely access essential services such as cancer checks and urgent surgery.

“From online consultations to the roll-out of cancer treatment hubs we are doing all we can to make sure patients receive the life-saving care that they need.

“The wishes of patients and their families will always come first, and we have to make sure that people feel safe coming to hospitals, but my message is clear: people should seek help as they always would.

“We know that finding cancer early gives us the best chance to cure it, and ignoring potential problems can have serious consequences now or in the future.”